By Bunmi Ogunyale
Former Super Eagles’ captain, Austin Jay jay Okocha, has backed the senior national team to spring surprises at the fast-approaching AFCON 2021 tournament in Cameroon.
Speaking against the backdrop of some key players that failed to make it to Cameroon, the former Paris Saint Germain midfielder believes the Austin Eguavoen side is capable of bringing back the trophy.
His words: “I believe Nigeria has what it takes to spring surprises at the tournament but the first match is very key to your campaign. We need to start on a good note to boost the players’ confidence level.
“You recall all hopes were lost on the eve of Atlanta ’96 and when we won the AFCON title the last time in South Africa. For me, the Nigerian side can show class when you least expect to perform and that’s the Nigerian spirit in us. “Though, I would have loved to see the likes of Odion Ighalo, Victor Osimhen and Leon Balogun in the team but I still believe that there are other decent players who understand the team’s culture and use the opportunity to showcase their talents.
“I was relatively new and young when I was invited to the national team but I grabbed the opportunity with both hands when it fell on my lapse. So, I expect the new players to do likewise and grab their place in the team.”
Okocha, who has been selected as a pundit for the tournament, advised the Nigerian side to remain focused and take the games as they come.
Asked on the tactics to adopt to stop the Africa Player of the Year and Egyptian forward, Mohamed Salah in their Group opener of the tournament, the Bolton Wanderer of England said African football is quite different from what is obtainable in Europe.